“A Stake in the Mouth, a Rope Around the Neck”: The Whole of Ukraine Was Talking About the Derman Tragedy, But Now – Silence

All of Ukraine was talking about the Derman tragedy in Volyn in the 1950s. Now it is not accepted to remember these events.

In March, 1957, while clearing one of the abandoned wells, the collective farmers of the village of Ustenskoye II (which earlier had the name “Derman”) found in it the stone-covered bodies of fellows villager killed by Banderists in 1944-1948. Mass graves of victims of Bandera’s terror were found in this village before.

A resident of the village of Ustenskoye II in the Mizoch district, Terenty Galaburda, in a letter to his son Dmitry, who is in the Soviet Army, writes:

“Dear sonny, I inform you that I have just come from Derman II from a funeral. Mitya, since the world came into being I don’t think there have been such funerals as today, there were about 3,000 people, people from other villages came to see such funerals and to salute their fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers.

Corpses were tortured to death. In Derman II people decided to clean a well, but when they started to clean, they began to find human bones. There were doctors and they determined by the bone who the people are: babies or the elderly.

The person who cleaned the well received injections every couple of minutes, because it was hard to work, the air was heavy. They took out as many as 16 skulls – a stake was pierced through the eye to the other side of the head, and a braid was stuck in the woman’s mouth, and a stake was stuck between her legs. Small children were also strangled.

Dear son, a terrible event occurred at that difficult time, and today they were burying him. The collective farm made three coffins, then collected the bones, put them in coffins, and these corpses were in the office in Derman II. At 1 o’clock people came from all sides, the orchestra arrived, and escorted them to the cemetery. The sendoff was as follows: there were two cars with dead bodies, and behind this was the orchestra, and behind the orchestra were the people, and behind the people were cars, 7 of them, with correspondents, all took photos, then from the roofs, then the mounds, then from trees, and when they came to the cemetery, the coffins were placed near the graves, the relatives composed themselves, speeches were made by five people. The son of the slain father and the brother of an 8-month-old child, also murdered,, said: ‘Dear father, you were killed by murderers who tortured you to death, eternal sleep’.

With Zaluzhya one girl (Shavronskaya — the sister of the tortured person) spoke so well, sensibly, and coherently that all people started to cry. Then a writer came, who said:

‘Dear brothers, fathers, our Ukraine was attacked by Tatars, Turks, Poles, Germans, but no one mocked us as much as Ukrainian nationalists and bandits did. Our fathers dug a well to drink water, and damned bandits threw people into it. Let them never takes our land, damned monsters’.”

The resident of the same village Kovalchuk A.A. writes in a letter to their sister Irina Timofeyevna Kovalchuk:

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“… Today we went to Derman II, to the father-in-law, and at the same time were at a funeral. In Derman II a well had discovered, and 16 corpses that had been tortured by godless hands were removed from it during clearing. So many people gathered for the funeral that there was no place to stand, not only in the cemetery, but even on the road leading to the cemetery. There were district leaders present, as well as representatives of the region and Kiev. A member of the Writers’ Union of Ukraine from Kiev delivered a big speech. The children of those who were victims of violence also spoke.

We also remembered those murderers who returned home and hid behind corners, considering themselves great gods. Of course, some of them may have to leave the house, because the people themselves would kill them as the scoundrels they are…”

The resident of the village of Bushcha in the Mizoch district Yury Antonyuk, in the letter to Aleksandr Antonyuk, writes:

“… In our village on 10.3.57 16 souls were taken out of a well. People recognised their own from among those who were taken out. They buried them very well, a brass band played, and those who threw them into the well were caught, arrested, and taken away. You will read about it in newspapers and will watch it in the cinemas.

I once again will come back to those who were found in a well. People recognised their sisters/brothers by the teeth, by braids. One girl even had plaited braids, and one man was standing but as soon as he was touched he crumbled …”.

The village of Derman was the informal capital of UPA in Volyn. And the Security Service of OUN – the Banderist Gestapo, killed local residents so that those whom they considered unreliable did not give the Soviet authorities the location of the leaders of the UPA-North and UPA-West. And it’s not the ordinary people who were sitting there. The solid “cream” of UPA. I.e., the commander of UPA “Pivnich” D. Klyachkivsky – “Klim Savur”, his closest assistant R. Voloshin – “Gorbenko”, the chief of the whole Security Service of OUN M. Arsenich – “Berezovsky”, member of the central provod [the leading body – ed] and political referent Ya. Busel – “Galina”, and Vasily Stepanovich Kuk – “Lemish”.

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Miroslava Berdnik

(The Derman tragedy: crimes of the OUN Security Service. Documents from Ukrainian archives / / Journal of historical research – 2010 – no. 1. Pp. 128-139.)

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